Three Ways to Fill a Rack High End: Yamaha RX-V2700
In market share, Yamaha is the number-one maker of surround receivers. The RX-V2700 ($1,700) ranks second from top in Yamaha's higher-end receiver line, yielding only to the RX-Z11 ($5,499). The baby of the family is the RX-V459 ($350). There is also a lower-end line of HTR receivers that includes 5.1-, 6.1-, and 7.1-channel models, ranging from the HTR-6090 ($1,100) to the HTR-5930 ($230).
As a general rule of thumb, receivers gain in weight and power as they increase in price. This one boasts an impressive 140 watts time seven into 8 ohms. While power specs are often works of fiction—and that's why we measure receivers—in practice, the RX-V2700 was powerful enough to run my seven Paradigm Reference Studio/20s full-range at high volume levels with musically acceptable bass response.
The RX-V2700 is the first Yamaha receiver to include 1080p signal processing, both input and output, using an Anchor Bay ABT1010 scaler. Implementation is fairly versatile. All video signal sources (HDMI, component, S-video, composite video) are routed to the HDMI output. And with the exception of HDMI input—routed solely to the HDMI output—all other signal sources are routed to all other outputs. For instance, if you plug an old VCR into the S-video input, it will output through the HDMI, component, S-video, and composite video jacks.
The implemented version of HDMI is Version 1.2a, which handles all the legacy surround codecs, such as Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES, and the high-rez audio formats, Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio. To get HDMI 1.3a, hold out for the forthcoming RX-V3800.
This receiver is also the second Yamaha to support PC connectivity. Plug your router into the receiver's network connector, and you can access music stored on your PC's hard drive. You can also use the receiver to tune Internet radio stations through the router (without using the PC). This is a relatively rare feature. Onkyo Net-Tune receivers used to handle Internet radio until the feature was discontinued. A recent royalty hike is threatening Internet radio, so enjoy it while you can. You can also use the receiver as a client with Yamaha's MusicCAST wireless home audio server system.
The Yamaha also supports XM Satellite Radio without an outboard XM tuner—just plug an XM antenna into the back of the receiver. The company offers an optional iPod dock, the YDS-10 ($100), which plugs into a proprietary back-panel jack.
Yamaha's proprietary version of auto setup and room EQ is called YPAO: Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer. Its use of adjustable-band parametric equalization, in this case seven bands' worth, is superior to the fixed-frequency graphic EQs found in some cruder auto-setups. YPAO figures out which frequencies need the most work and massages them, not just with –20/+6-dB volume adjustments, but also the Q (or width) of the frequency band. Biff, bam, YPAO!
If you need to poke around the menus, you'll travel first class through some of the best-looking graphics ever seen in a surround receiver. They put to shame products that cost a lot more, only to confront the user with crude monochromatic graphics more suitable in a $200 receiver than in a $2,000 one.
A few other features that are distinctively Yamaha include ToP-ART circuit topography, "a design philosophy whose goal is to maximize digital quality while minimizing analog circuitry." The Silent Cinema feature provides a form of surround enhancement when used with headphones.
The RX-V2700 has Yamaha's signature sound, which is up front and detailed, although not excessively so. Yet the midrange had a slight outline that made dialogue more intelligible and allowed practically any kind of music to punch through, even at low volume levels. This particular Yamaha yielded enough power to deliver lean, but decent, bass as well.
Yamaha RX-V2700 A/V Receiver:
• Rated 140 watts per channel can run moderately sensitive full-range speakers
• PC and Internet radio connectivity
• Attractive graphic user interface